Overview of dry eyes or dry eye syndrome
If you have dry eye syndrome, your eyes may not produce enough tears to cover your eyes. Your eyes are also prone to bacterial infections, or the surface of your eyes becomes inflamed and scars on the cornea.
Although uncomfortable, dry eye syndrome does not cause permanent vision loss.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
Common symptoms of dry eye:
Other common features:
- Watery tearing
- Stringy mucus
- Eyes get tired faster than they used to
- Difficulty reading or sitting at the computer for long periods
- Blurry vision
- The feeling of having sand in your eyes
The best drops for dry eyes
Over-the-counter options for dry eyes generally include eye drops, gels, and ointments. Most of these products contain ingredients that help retain moisture.
Carboxymethylcellulose is a common calming substance, different manufacturers have their own ingredients and often comes down to personal preference.
Look for products that contain lubricants like carboxymethyl cellulose and electrolytes like potassium.
Treatment for dry eyes
Eye drops that increase moisture in the eyes are one of the most common treatments for dry eye syndrome. Artificial tears work well for some people, too.
Your ophthalmologist may use plugs to avoid drainage holes in the corners of your eyes. It is a relatively painless, reversible procedure that reduces tear loss.
If your condition is severe, plugs may be recommended as a permanent solution.
Medications for dry eyes
The most commonly prescribed medication for dry eye syndrome is an anti-inflammatory called cyclosporine (Restasis). The drug increases the number of tears in your eyes and lowers the risk of damage to your cornea.
If your case of dry eye is severe, you may need to use corticosteroid eye drops for a short time while the medication takes effect.
Alternative medications include cholinergic, such as pilocarpine. These medications help stimulate tear production.
If another medication is causing your eyes to become dry, your doctor may switch your prescription to try to find one that doesn’t dry out your eyes.
If you have severe dry eye syndrome and it doesn’t go away with other treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The drainage holes at the inner corners of your eyes may be permanently plugged to allow your eyes to maintain an adequate amount of tears.
If you have dry eyes, use humidity to increase the humidity in your room and prevent dry weather. Wear your contact lenses and limit the amount of time you spend in front of the computer or television.
Kugler notes that there are also new treatments, such as LipiFlow, which helps tears flow more easily, and BlephEx, which is performed by an eye care professional to clean the eyelid.
A reliable source suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can help people with dry eyes.
Generally, people should take these supplements regularly for at least 3 months.
However, a reliable source from the 2018 study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, concluded that omega-3 medications are no better than placebo in treating moderate to severe dry eye.
If your dry eyes are caused by environmental factors, try making some lifestyle changes, like avoiding cigarette smoke and protecting your eyes with glasses during windy outdoor activities.
Adding a humidifier to your home will keep the air moist, which will help keep your eyes dry.
Contacts for dry eyes
Soft contacts are usually more comfortable for people with dry eyes than hard contact lenses, says Boxer Wachler. Soft lenses stay moist and allow the eye to breathe better than hard lenses.
What are the causes of dry eyes?
Tears have three layers. There is an oily outer layer, a water middle layer, and an inner mucous membrane.
If the glands that make the various elements of tears are inflamed or don’t produce enough water, oil, or mucus, it can lead to dry eye syndrome.
When the oil is lost from tears, they evaporate quickly and the eyes cannot maintain a constant supply of moisture.
Causes of dry eye syndrome:
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Exposure to the wind or dry air, such as constant exposure to a heater during the winter.
- Lasik eye surgery
- Some medications, including antihistamines, nasal decongestants, birth control pills, and antidepressants.
- Long-term contact lens wear
- Staring at a computer for long hours
- Not blinking enough
Dry eye syndrome is more common in people 50 years of age or older. There are an estimated 5 million Americans at this age.
Most of them are women, but this condition occurs in men.
Pregnant women are at higher risk of undergoing hormone replacement therapy or menopause. The following underlying conditions can also increase your risk:
- Chronic allergies
- Thyroid disease pushes the eyes forward.
- Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune system disorders.
- Exposure keratitis, which occurs when you sleep with your eyes partially open
- Vitamin A deficiency, getting enough nutrition is unlikely.
Some believe that too much exposure to the blue light that’s emitted from computer screens can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
Humans evolved outside in an enormous source of blue light [from the sun]. So to suggest that computer screens are causing more blue light issues than sunlight doesn’t make much intuitive sense.
It is known, however, that staring at computer screens for many hours at a time suppresses our blink reflex, which leads to more dry eyes.
It’s a good idea to take breaks when using a computer. Some people feel more comfortable wearing blue light filtering glasses when using computers, and that won’t cause any harm.
Dry eyes in the morning
Sleeping with a ceiling fan or other airflow can increase dry eye symptoms. Recommend eliminating the source of the airflow. Also recommends applying eye ointments overnight so that they stay moist until morning.
Dry eyes at night
Dry eye at night is usually the result of work done during the day. So if you look at the computer or book all day, when it shines, your eyes are dry at night. By maintaining adequate hydration of the surface of the eye during the day, symptoms can improve.
When to see a doctor
If your eyes feel dry and you’re suddenly unable to see as well as you used to, visit an eye doctor, ophthalmologist, or optometrist right away.
Dry eye is best treated early. If it goes untreated for a long time, it becomes more difficult to manage.